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Films Watched (and Rated) in 2023

Top 10 Films Watched in 2023

As usual, I’ve provided a synopsis of our Top 10 Films from 2023 — those ranked 8.0 and above — followed by a longer list of films we watched in general, along with the rating we gave them on a scale of 1-10 — 10 being the highest. While in previous years we ranked films 9.0 and above, this year, it wasn’t to be.

There were some films we saw this year we wanted to like more, but in the end, they wound up on the bottom of our list — namely Napoleon, Tár, and The Whale.

Some films were second- or third- viewings for me, such as A Room with a View, Pandora’s Box, and The Army of Shadows (and I re-watched The Gladiator and The Children’s Hour since David had never seen them) and they have remained stellar films despite the decades that have passed. As such, they deserve their place in the Top 10.

But, to be sure, what stands this year was my discovery of Guy Ritchie films in general (I know — it took me awhile!) and Jason Statham in particular. Starting off strong with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (8.0) and transitioning nicely to Snatch (7.0), we indulged in what we knew would be mediocre movies in The Transporter (and, embarrassingly, The Transporter II), but Statham is just one of those actors you can’t take your eyes off of. (And no, that doesn’t mean I’m going to watch Meg: 2 — The Trench 😂. I do have my limits.)

I LOATHED the adaptation of All the Light We Cannot See, which doesn’t even merit inclusion on my watch list! (Please just read the book), but war films are a staple for us every year and often rank very high. All Quiet on the Western Front was a beautiful adaptation of Remarque’s 1929 anti-war novel, and Generation War was the long-form film we started off 2023 with.

Mads Mikkelsen never fails to leave me mesmerized, and he delivered again in Arctic; our watching of Triangle of Sadness was inspired by the fact that we loved the director’s 2014 film Force Majeure, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was a film I had been meaning to watch for years. But if I had to choose one film this year out of all of our favorites, it would be The Fool (Durak).

1. The Fool (2014)

A 2014 Russian film directed by Yuri Bykov. The story revolves around a young plumber, Dima Nikitin, who discovers a major structural issue in a Soviet-era apartment building. Despite his efforts to report the problem to the authorities, he encounters corruption, indifference, and a network of powerful figures trying to cover up the issue. As the situation escalates, Dima finds himself in a moral dilemma, torn between the corrupt system and the safety of the people living in the building. The film serves as a powerful commentary on systemic corruption and the challenges faced by individuals trying to do the right thing in a flawed society. Unforgettable. 8.0

2. Generation War (2013)

A German miniseries from 2013 that follows five friends through World War II. Divided into three parts, it explores the complexities of loyalty and sacrifice against the backdrop of the war’s changing dynamics. 8.0

3. Arctic (2018)

A 2018 film which follows the story of a man stranded in the Arctic after a plane crash who must decide whether to stay in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or embark on a deadly trek through the unknown for potential rescue. 8.0

4. Triangle of Sadness (2022)

A satirical drama film directed by Ruben Ostlund. The story follows the lives of a billionaire couple and a model as they navigate the complexities of their relationships and the consequences of their extravagant lifestyles. The performances are nothing short of amazing. 8.0

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

A recent film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic anti-war novel. Set during World War I, the movie follows the harrowing journey of a young German soldier named Paul Bäumer and his comrades as they confront the brutal realities of war.

6. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

In this British crime comedy, a group of friends finds themselves entangled in the London criminal underworld after a high-stakes card game goes wrong. The film follows their attempts to navigate and survive the chaotic consequences.

7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Based on a true story, this French biographical drama portrays the life of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor of Elle magazine, who, after suffering a stroke, is left with locked-in syndrome. The film explores his experiences, particularly his ability to communicate using only his left eye.

8. Pandora’s Box (1929)

This German silent film is a classic of the Weimar era. It follows the tragic life of Lulu, a beautiful and seductive woman whose relationships lead to ruin and despair. The film is known for its atmospheric expressionism and social commentary.

9. A Room with a View (1985)

This Merchant Ivory production, based on E.M. Forster’s novel, is a romantic drama set in Edwardian England. It follows the journey of a young woman named Lucy Honeychurch, exploring themes of social conventions, love, and self-discovery.

10. Army of Shadows (1969)

A French film directed by one of my favorite directors, Jean-Pierre Melville, Army of Shadows is a wartime thriller about the French Resistance during World War II. The film depicts the challenges faced by a group of resistance fighters as they navigate danger, betrayal, and the moral complexities of their mission.

FULL LIST OF MOVIES WATCHED AND RANKED IN 2023

EO (2022) 7.0
The Pale Blue Eye (2022) 5.0
Lumumba (2000) 7.0
Argentina, 1985 (2022) 7.0
The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982) 7.0
Decision to Leave (2022) 7.0
The Gentlemen (2019) 7.0
Gladiator (2000) 7.0
Caged (1950) 7.0
Il Posto (1961) 7.0
They Were Expendable (1945) 7.0
Gomorrah (2008) 7.0
Hour of the Wolf (1968) 7.0
The Children’s Hour (1961) 7.0
The Whale (2022) 6.0
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019) 6.0
Tár (2022) 6.0
The Transporter (2002) 6.0
Calvary (2014) 6.0
The Innocents (2021) 6.0
Napoleon (2023) 5.0

Don’t forget to check out Favorite Films Watched in 2021, Favorite Films Watched in 2022, and Favorite Films Watched in 2020.

What are some of your favorite films?

Films Watched (and Rated) in 2022

As you’ll see below, we tend to get into themes when we watch movies — it might be a number of films by a certain director or about a particular topic or from a specific country — and that was no exception in 2022. (See Films Watched in 2021 and Films Watched in 2020.)

Top 10 Films Watched in 2022

I’ve provided a synopsis of our Top 10 Films from 2022, followed by some theme categories, followed by a longer list of the name of the films we watched along with the rating we gave them on a scale of 1-10 — 10 being the best. The list below starts with those we’ve rated 9.0, but they — and those rated 8.0 after that — are in no particular order.

1. The Battle of Chile (1973)

David and I always start the new year with a long film or film series, and for 2022 we chose The Battle of Chile, a three-part film about the fall of Salvador Allende and the rise of August Pinochet. Watching this 3-part film just days before the 1st anniversary of the January 6th insurrection of the U.S. Capitol was both fitting and harrowing.

To be sure, there are fundamental differences between the Chilean far right taking down a democratically elected government and the divisive state of our country today. First of all, Chile had a major foreign power backing them (the United States) and a military that acted on its own — independent of the constitutional government.

But there are chilling similarities that every American will recognize in this story and that every American needs to see. As for the filmmaking itself, it’s incredible. The amount of footage and the breadth and depth of the storytelling are enough to justify the high esteem with which it is still regarded 50 years after its debut, and while it is clear which side the filmmakers support, it is hard not to sympathize with the conviction, compassion, and tenacity of the pro-government workers. Highly recommended. 9.0

2. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Directed by Edgar Wright; Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, and Bill Nighy; written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Being a huge fan of British comedy,  I don’t know why it took me so long to watch what the filmmakers themselves call the “Cornetto Trilogy”: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. All three films are directed by Edgar Wright and written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (who also star in all three).

I’d heard about Shaun of the Dead for years and years, but I think I was skeptical of the zombie apocalypse theme (and in the end rated it 7.0). Still, it was my loss for waiting this long. We didn’t watch the “trilogy” in the order in which the films were made; we started with Hot Fuzz, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I started laughing within the first 3 minutes. The screenwriting, the comedic timing, the editing, the delightful silliness all combine to create a joyful viewing experience! 9.0 for Hot Fuzz! (P.S. We rated The World’s End 8.0.)

3. Baby Driver (2017)

Another film we rated 9.0 was a movie I had never even heard of before. And like with Hot Fuzz, I was hooked from the moment it started. It’s also directed by Edgar Wright (who made the aforementioned comedies), and it might be one of the most perfect little heist films I’ve ever seen.

Part dark comedy, part character study, part heist film, part hero story, part …. well….getaway film. (And yes, we’ve decided that is its own genre.) The editing is stellar, the cast is fantastic, and if you like dark comedies, this film is for you.

Heart and humor isn’t all it has; it’s also got one of the most endearing main characters on film, and the music is a significant part of the story. Because of an accident he had when he was young, Baby has a perpetual ringing in his ears. Music is one of the things that brings him relief, and so he essentially creates a soundtrack to every experience in his life. Don’t miss this film. 9.0 

4. The “Pusher” Trilogy

The trilogy starts with Pusher, made in 1996 and starring Mads Mikkelsen (one of my FAVORITE actors), followed by Pusher II (2004), then Pusher III (2005). We gave Pusher and Pusher II each an 8.0, but Pusher III didn’t live up to the first two and got a 6.0 from us.

Hear me and hear me now…these films are not for the faint of heart. Pusher is about a drug pusher who grows increasingly desperate after a botched deal leaves him with a large debt to a ruthless drug lord. The films are gritty and violent, and the characters are no angels, but the stories are skillfully told.

5. Memories of Murder (2003)

Moving from Denmark to South Korea, we have another 8.0 film, directed in 2003 by Joon Ho Bong, who also directed the Academy-award-winning Parasite. Both films are irreverent and darkly humorous, though I think Memories of Murder is the superior of the two. Based on a true story about an inept police detective trying to solve a string of rapes and serial murders in a small Korean village, it is adeptly made and well-deserving of its ranking of 8.0.

6. Sacco & Vanzetti (1971)

Moving back to Europe from Korea, we have an 1971 Italian film based on the true story of the 1921-1927 imprisonment, trial, conviction, and execution of two Italian-born immigrant anarchists, named Sacco and Vanzetti. Starring another favorite actor of mine — Gian Maria Volontè — it’s just a complicated story told well. Quite a feat considering the bulk of the story takes place in a courtroom. 8.0

7. The Mattei Affair (1972)

Also starring Gian Maria Volontè and directed by the masterful Francesco Rosi, this film is based on the true story of an Italian industrialist who died in a plane crash and revolves around the question (that has never been answered): was it an accident or an assassination? 8.0

8. The Little World of Don Camillo (1952)

Staying in Italy but traveling back 20 years, we have a classic Italian comedy about a determined priest and a Communist mayor who develop a grudging friendship in spite of their official rivalry. The dynamic between the two main characters / actors is so engrossing that several other films have been made starring the same actors and featuring the same characters. 8.0

9. The Alpinist (2021) and Torn (2021)

Other than The Battle of Chile, we didn’t have any documentaries on our list, so I thought I would choose two from our 8.0 ranking and honor two films about climbing. Both very moving and beautifully told — and both tied for 8.0

10. The Intouchables (2011)

I thought I would end the list with one that — for me — was the feel-good film of the year! As you can see from this year’s list and from those in previous years, we watch a lot of movies with serious or dark subject matter, but in this French film from 2011, we struck feel-good gold. After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caregiver, and a relationship is forged. 8.0

Films about South Africa / Apartheid

Toward the end of 2022, we were getting ready to take folks on a Joyful Vegan Trip to Rwanda, followed by a Joyful Vegan Trip to Botswana. The latter trip began and ended in Cape Town, South Africa, and we used it as an opportunity to read some books and watch some films about this country in general and apartheid in particular. I had a rudimentary understanding of apartheid and Nelson Mandela, but I wanted to know more. So, I read Diamonds, Gold, and War by Martin Meredith and Mandela’s autobiography Long Road to Freedom, and we watched a number of films about South Africa and apartheid. 

Cry Freedom (1987) Like so many of the films we’ve seen about apartheid, it’s a good story but slightly flawed in the telling of it, despite being directed by Richard Attenborough. Still, I definitely recommend it, despite the awful accents. South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the Black anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko. 7.0

A Dry White Season (1989) Forgetful title, good story, mediocre dialogue. Still, our intention was to watch the most highly recommended films about apartheid, and this was one of them. It’s still a film worth watching, even if Sutherland’s Afrikaans accent is cringeworthy. A white middle class South African suburbanite with no interest in politics agrees to help his black gardener find his jailed son. His investigation opens his eyes to the horrors committed by the secret police and turns him into a target. 6.0 

The Bang Bang Club (2010) While David wanted to rate it a 6.0, I appreciated this drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa. Some of the scenes were impressively shot and harrowing to watch, and I sympathized with the different personalities of people being in a very difficult situation. 7.0 

Goodbye Bafana (2007) This is the true story of a white South African racist whose life was profoundly altered by the black prisoner he guarded for twenty years. The prisoner’s name was Nelson Mandela. 7.0

FULL LIST OF MOVIES WATCHED AND RANKED IN 2022

  • Baby Driver (2017) 9.0 
  • Hot Fuzz (2007) 9.0 
  • Battle of Chile (1973) 9.0
  • Memories of Murder (2003) 8.0 
  • Sacco & Vanzetti (1971) 8.0 
  • The Mattei Affair (1972) 8.0 
  • Beasts of No Nation (2015 ) 8.0  
  • The Facts of Murder (1959) 8.0  
  • The Getaway (1972) (As good as the first time I watched it 25 years ago.) 8.0
  • Pusher II (2004) 8.0 
  • Pusher (1996) 8.0 
  • Champion (1949) 8.0 
  • Hell Is for Heroes (1962) 8.0 
  • The Alpinist (2021) 8.0
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) 8.0 
  • The Little World of Don Camillo (1952) 8.0 
  • John Adams (2008) 8.0 
  • The Bridge (1959) 8.0 
  • The World’s End (2013) 8.0
  • The Intouchables (2011) 8.0
  • Torn (2021) 8.0
  • In Bruges (2008) 8.0 (2nd viewing for me; David hadn’t seen it before)
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) 7.0
  • The Unforgivable (2021) 7.0
  • Blue Valentine (2010) 7.0
  • Shaun of the Dead (2004) 7.0
  • The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) 7.0
  • Drive (2011) 7.0 
  • Window (1949) 7.0
  • Shock Troops (1967) 7.0 
  • Amen. (2002) 7.0 
  • The Killing of America (1981) 7.0 
  • The League of Gentlemen (1960) 7.0 
  • Missing (1982) 7.0 
  • Nevada Smith (1966) 7.0 
  • Inherit the Wind (1960) 7.0 
  • Crossfire (1947) 7.0 
  • Lulu the Tool (1971) 7.0  
  • The Night Caller (1975) 7.0 
  • Elena (2011)(Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, same director as Loveless, The Banishment, Leviathan. See Films Watched in 2021.) 7.0
  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962) 7.0 
  • Cry Freedom (1987) 7.0 
  • The Bang Bang Club (2010) 7.0 
  • Goodbye Bafana (2007) 7.0 
  • Pusher III (2005) 6.0 
  • Baby Doll (1956) 6.0
  • A Dry White Season (1989) 6.0 
  • The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) 6.0
  • The Driver (1978) 6.0  
  • Caught (1949) 6.0 
  • The Reckless Moment (1949) 6.0 
  • Body and Soul (1947) 6.0
  • Open Secret (1948) 5.0 
  • The Northman (2022) 5.0 
  • America: The Motion Picture (2021) 5.0  

Don’t forget to check out Favorite Films Watched in 2021, Favorite Films Watched in 2020, and Favorite Films Watched in 2023. What are some of your favorite films?

Halloween Movies with an Animal Theme

Don’t worry! I don’t recommend films in which animals are the victims of gruesome violence. So, grab some popcorn, get a pen and paper, and settle into this episode where I share my suggestions for films that are perfect for Halloween — for kids and adult alike. 

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